BAKERSFIELD, CA — The charitable relief organization CityServe International has fully activated its church-based network, teaming up with No Child Hungry, to launch its distribution of over 250,000 meals and other emergency supplies throughout the fire-stricken Hawaiian island of Maui.
Pastors and church members whose entire neighborhoods were wiped out by the flames are healing their own hearts by volunteering. They’re toting supplies, hefting boxes, passing out meals, giving toys to children, and praying for the afflicted who’ve lost everything.
Amidst the tears being shed are tangible signs of hope and love, including the arrival of Ivanka Trump, who was seen hefting boxes of supplies, consoling survivors, hugging children, and passing out meals to those who’ve lost everything.
Trump joined forces with CityServe on Wednesday afternoon, visiting with Lahaina residents and passing out much-needed emergency provisions.
Nicole Bogosian, whose father pastors Calvary Chapel Lahaina, was on hand at Calvary Chapel South Maui when Ivanka Trump arrived there as a surprise volunteer.
“It was amazing to see her humility, that none of this was for show,” Bogosian told CityServe Vice President of Governmental Relations Todd Lamphere, who was making his second trip to the island to coordinate relief efforts there.
“It wasn’t for photo ops, it wasn’t about getting her name out there,” Bogosian said. “Even her name tag just said, ‘Iva,’” Bogosian said.
“That she just came and was serving the community, it was humbling. You could feel the love that was there and she truly just wants to help. It wasn’t about anything besides giving encouragement and love to people, and that’s what we need right now.”
Ivanka Trump has volunteered with CityServe several times before, including in Poland, Florida and D.C. She has personally donated to the CityServe Maui relief efforts as well.
Authorities report they’ve recovered 115 bodies so far from the conflagration that began August 8 and swept through the beachfront resort town of Lahaina. It is the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century and the fifth deadliest ever recorded.
On Wednesday, Trump accompanied CityServe leaders to the edge of the burn zone where the fire had been so intense it reportedly melted engine blocks. Authorities say over 2,200 structures – offices, homes, retail outlets – were burned to the ground.
“The best way to describe it is apocalyptic,” Lamphere observed. “It looks like a war zone.”
Further complicating relief efforts, automobiles were also ravaged by the inferno, leaving residents with no transportation to obtain desperately needed food, medical attention, and other emergency supplies.
In response, CityServe’s church network, led by local partners Kings Cathedral Church Maui and Calvary Chapel South Maui, has established local distribution “hubs” in churches and the homes of volunteers.
“This is why CityServe partners with the local church exclusively,” said Lamphere, “because it’s the local church that takes these resources to the people living in the last mile of need. Many have lost their homes and they’re living in a hotel right now. But they need diapers, food, and clothes for their family.”
“The church is the one that is stepping up and taking these resources to people,” he added. “Many of them have lost their cars. They can’t travel to a distant distribution site, so the church is taking the distribution site to them.”
Coleen Rifhovd, the food-pantry director at Calvary Chapel South Maui, remarked, “We have so many who are hurting that are without help. They’re desperate, and they don’t know what’s coming.”
“But with Ivanka coming and serving, being here and just speaking with each person in the community, we know we’re not forgotten,” Rifhovd added. “We know that somebody just loves us and cares for us.”
CityServe is a collaborative network of churches and community leaders who help those in need live better lives. CityServe empowers the local church to fulfill its purpose to overcome despair and transform lives by resourcing them with tangible goods and capacity building. CityServe brings the church to the table to address community challenges by offering long-lasting relationships that lead to transformation and has been designated a “Community of Faith and Opportunity” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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Source: JDA Worldwide, Ivanka Trump joins CityServe international in bringing help and hope to Lahaina, Maui